Madoff Gets Max: 150 Years in Prison

Ponzi Schemer Sentenced for Massive Fraud Bernard Madoff will spend the rest of his life behind bars, as he was sentenced today to 150 years in federal prison for the biggest Ponzi scheme ever perpetrated.

Earlier this year in March, Madoff, 71, pled guilty to swindling thousands of investors out of billions of dollars. Prosecutors say the Ponzi scheme that Madoff ran totaled $65 billion and began in the 1980s.

When he pled guilty to 11 criminal charges including money laundering and multiple counts of fraud, Madoff's possible sentence was 150 years. His lawyer Ira Sorkin, asked U.S. District Judge Denny Chin to sentence Madoff to 12 years in prison, saying that Madoff's life expectancy was 13 years.

Chin's sentence came after Madoff told the court, "I don't ask for forgiveness." Madoff pled guilty to securities fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, investment adviser fraud, three counts of money laundering, false statements, perjury, false filings with the SEC and theft from an employee benefit plan. Prosecutors called for the maximum sentence after Madoff failed to fully cooperate with them in identifying where the money went. Chin expressed his anger with Madoff as well on this during sentencing.

Madoff's wife, Ruth Madoff has given prosecutors up to $80 million worth of assets. She may keep $2.5 million in cash under an agreement with prosecutors. This money may be targeted by the SEC or court-appointed trustee for Madoff's firm in recovery efforts in the future.

Nine of Madoff's victims testified before the court, telling of how their lives and savings were lost in the swindle.

The scheme hit thousands of investors, including charities, hedge funds and individuals. Some of Madoff's investors were millionaires who found they had been duped and were left penniless after the fraud was revealed in December. Two businessmen committed suicide after finding out that millions of their customers' holdings were gone.

The court-appointed trustee for Madoff's firm has identified about 1,341 account holders who suffered estimated losses of more than $13.2 billion. The trustee recovered more than $1.2 billion for victims, thus far.

Madoff claimed to have $65 billion in his firm's accounts at the end of November, prosecutors say the accounts only held a small fraction of that claim.

See: Field Report for initial reactions to Madoff's sentence.

About the Author

Linda McGlasson

Linda McGlasson

Managing Editor

Linda McGlasson is a seasoned writer and editor with 20 years of experience in writing for corporations, business publications and newspapers. She has worked in the Financial Services industry for more than 12 years. Most recently Linda headed information security awareness and training and the Computer Incident Response Team for Securities Industry Automation Corporation (SIAC), a subsidiary of the NYSE Group (NYX). As part of her role she developed infosec policy, developed new awareness testing and led the company's incident response team. In the last two years she's been involved with the Financial Services Information Sharing Analysis Center (FS-ISAC), editing its quarterly member newsletter and identifying speakers for member meetings.

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